WE are caught in a leasehold trap.

We purchased our Barratt home at Victoria Gardens in Widnes last June and were told at that time it was leasehold.

The ground rent was £250 per year, with a service charge of £135.

This would be approximately a few pounds per week.

Although not ideal, we did not feel we had to worry about a few pounds a week.

We were not advised of a rent review in line with inflation after 15 years and were never given the opportunity to buy freehold at the point of sale.

We did not even know that this was an option when we bought the house.

We then received a letter from Barratt Homes this June saying it had disposed of the freeholds to Landmark Collections.

No-one advised that this may happen.

We now have to wait two years to go down the formal route and hope we can buy the full freehold at a fair price.

We have since been informed that a few residents had been able to buy the freehold for £5,000 before it was disposed of.

We have asked for an informal calculation to buy the freehold from Landmark Collections, which has quoted 50 times the ground rent, a total of £12,500 plus £375 legal costs.

This is nearly three times the amount we should have paid when we were advised by Barratt Homes and a solicitor who was recommended to us by the property developer.

We are in a small development of 53 houses which are now all sold and most are leasehold.

We would not have bought the house if we had known the full facts.

Dorothy Clare Widnes